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Thoughtful Gardening Hardcover – Feb 9 2010


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Gardening stories and more Dec 6 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author is an academic historian whose other lifelong passion is gardening. Drawing on his 40 years of experience writing a gardening column for London's Financial Times, his travels to gardens around the world, and his own decades of practical gardening, Robin Lane Fox presents a series of essays on gardening and gardens, and he often expands into history, people, and political asides. While I do not always agree with him (he seems a little misogynistic at times, and he is a strong advocate for fox hunting), his stories are entertaining and his gardening wisdom is spot-on. I especially like the color photos...not too many, but what is there is beautiful. My favorite is the photo of his own home in the Cotswolds.

Thoughtful Gardening is a book for truly passionate gardeners. Casual gardeners may find it a bit intense...or it may expand their horizons and light a spark.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
charming book Oct. 5 2011
By C. Mathis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
love this book - has good tips and told in a wonderfully charming way. I would recommend it to any gardener - experienced or new.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Radically Conservative View of Contemporary Gardening -- Less Thoughtful than Antediluvian Jan. 1 2012
By Katherine Seymour - Published on Amazon.com
Robin Lane Fox, a teacher of ancient history at Oxford University and a long-time gardening columnist for the Financial Times has collected a set of columns into an erudite and passionate celebration of what he calls "thoughtful gardening" -- defined simply as the application of a refined eye to flower gardening." Using finely drawn portraits of remarkable gardens and gardeners in Europe and the United States and deeply felt judgments about favorite trees, shrubs and perennials, Lane Fox describes his lifelong education in plants.

The problem is that his learning is rooted very deeply into the past. His columns dealing with invasive species and global warming are perhaps most perplexing. He chastises the United States for its "war on invasives" singling out many invasives (nandinas, callery pears, Russian olives) as among his favorites and undeserving targets of American wrath. He acknowledges that plant populations are forever changing, not static, but seems unaware that many native species have evolved in their niches over millennia and have established mutually beneficial relationships with other plants and animals that can be, are are being, destroyed by the introduction of aggressive exotics.

His dismissal of global warming is similarly overdetermined. He argues, correctly, that noone has any idea of what the impact of global warming will be like over the next few generations. But he goes on to argue that the whole issue is overwrought and warns that scares "can be multiplied especially if there are gardening practices that deep down, the scarers dislike." Thus, he reasons, global warming is a crisis exploited and manipulated by those who "hate lawns and flower gardens" and wish to introduce less coddled and more pedestrian massed grasses -- "pretending to be a prairie" -- in Lane Fox's view.

His portraits of fellow gardeners can be particularly cutting, as when he praises Rosemary Verie (until her death "the queen of English gardening') but unnecessarily describes Verie's aging, where "a bottle or two of spirits used to help her through the dark, solitary evenings" in Gloucestershire. He portrays Christopher Lloyd as one of the "most thoughtful of gardeners" but also notes Lloyd's own dismissal of Lane Fox's authority as a horticulturist because he was "only a university lecturer at Oxford." But Lane Fox gets the last word, describing a scene in which Lloyd, in his late seventies, broke from a tour of Kew Gardens to embrace a young male gardener, digging with shirt off, and kissed him "wholeheartedly." Lane Fox continues, "shortly after, the tails on his big topiary peacock birds at Dixter were docked by an intruder. Many of us enjoyed speculating who had done it and why."

Lane Fox is consistent in at least one respect. He constantly rues the political correctness that has limited his favorite "sport" -- foxhunting. And he makes plain that, in England, garden writing too is a blood sport.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good for those who live in the area where these plants can grow. Nov. 12 2014
By Kener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Actually bought it for the dedication which is so great and I could really relate to.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Outdated opinion based gardening Dec 4 2014
By DJ Arboretum - Published on Amazon.com
As I read this book I initially assumed it was a collection of the authors columns from the financial times, published over the past forty years, because of the very dated views espoused. Unfortunately it isn't. The author seems obsessed the the idea that women have had no substantive role as gardeners now or in the past and when ever he mentions a woman gardener always qualifies it with a quip about the man behind the throne. He also rails against organic gardening, I'm not suprised he needs to use pesticide sprays as he would certainly have no population of beneficial insects in his garden.
I was particularly horrified at his attempts to poison mammalian pests, giving badgers prozac and dosing rabbits with glyphosate. Surely this not legal in the UK? I did wonder if he was joking about doing this but he seemed so delighted with the results that I believe it really happened.
The author seems to accept that winters in the UK are getting warmer, making many references to being able to overwinter plants like fuchsias now, and yet he takes the RHS to town for suggesting future styles of gardening in a hotter drier climate.
While the stated gardening focus of the book is flower gardening, a gardening writer of Robin Lane Fox's experience should have a stronger technical understanding. He repeatedly refers to phytothera as a bacteria, while also calling it a fungus implying he thinks fungi are a type of bacteria (they are not). Perhaps this lack of understanding underlies his adherence to old fashioned garden techniques.

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